Monday, October 31, 2011

How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.Cheesecake Farms.com



Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin Lasagna
and so much more!
If the only pumpkin you've ever had came from a can, you need to taste fresh pumpkin right from the patch.

Most pumpkins are edible. 

Some have a smooth texture when cooked.  


Others (especially the jack-o-lantern type) tend to be a little bit string-y but all pumpkins work well in recipes.


How to Cook a Fresh Pumpkin for Puree

There are many ways to cook a fresh pumpkin. 
We think this is the easiest.

Use only whole, unblemished pumpkins for eating.

Do not use pumpkins that have been painted or decorated with inedible paints and materials.  Do not use carved pumpkins.

Wash the pumpkin well. 


Cut open but leave in big chunks (like half or quarters according to the size of the pumpkin - see Karla's Tip below.) 


Remove the seeds.  Save seeds for roasting. (Recipe follows.) 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 


Coat a shallow baking pan (with sides) with pan spray.


Place pumpkin, cut sides down into pan. Put into oven.


Roast, uncovered until pumpkin is very soft and collapses. 
The exact amount of time depends on the size. 
Small pumpkins roast in about 1/2 an hour.
Large pumpkins can take 50 minutes or longer.


Cool. 


Scoop out the pulp. Discard the rind. 


Mash the pulp with a fork or potato masher.  Puree if stringy. 


Use in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.


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Karla's Tip - Cutting a Pumpkin

If your pumpkin is particularly big or the rind particular hard, it may not be possible to cut the pumpkin. 

You can roast the pumpkin whole and uncut but we like the taste a bit better if the seeds are not roasted inside. Also, there is a slight chance that the pumpkin will explode in the oven because of built up pressure that can not escape.

If you must roast your pumpkin without cutting, test the tenderness of the rind every now and then during the roasting. Once the rind has softened, cut a slit or poke a hole in the rind so the steam can escape to prevent an exploding pumpkin.

Another trick, if your pumpkin is small enough, is to microwave the whole pumpkin for about 2 minutes to soften the rind.  Makes cutting a whole lot easier!  

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Save those pumpkin seeds for healthy snacking. 
You can eat them raw but toasting adds crunch.


Seeds from a raw pumpkin
Vegetable oil
Salt (optional)
Chili powder, garlic salt, cumin or your favorite spice blend (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put seeds into a colander and rinse well. Drain. 



Toss each cup of seeds in 1 tablespoon oil.  Spread onto an ungreased baking sheet. 

Sprinkle with salt and/or spices, if desired. 



Bake (stirring occasionally) until lightly browned - about 12 minutes.

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